Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hospital CEO Has a Dream – A New Hospital

David and Heather Palmer of Ampco Electric Inc. in Sallisaw accept the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce Member of the Month Award, presented by Chamber President Jeff Mayo, right, on Wednesday at the chamber’s monthly luncheon meeting. 

Julie Ward, Northeastern Health Systems (NHS) CEO at NHS Sequoyah Hospital in Sallisaw, told members of the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, “I have a dream.”

Ward said her dream is to have a bigger and better hospital building in a new location. She explained to the chamber members at the chamber’s monthly membership meeting on Wednesday at People Inc.

Ward said the Sallisaw hospital building is old, and current rules and regulations are that the local hospital will receive higher reimbursements if it is 25 miles or more away from another hospital. Ward said Sallisaw’s hospital is 24 miles from Sparks Medical Center in Fort Smith. Another mile to the west would mean more money for the Sallisaw hospital.

Ward asked that the chamber members not think she was crazy when she said, “I want a new hospital. I want a critical access hospital.”

Ward said a recent loan will help the four-star Sallisaw hospital make some improvements. Renovation will begin next week on an improved front entrance and information area that will direct visitors to the correct areas. That will be complete in six to eight weeks, she said.

A new partnership with Cherokee Health Partners will provide a cardiology department, to be open in three months. 

Ward thanked the community and businesses for supporting the purchase of new 3D mammography equipment, which equips the hospital with the best equipment available. The equipment will be ready to go in March, she said.

She said other physicians and their services available are two neurologists, an endocrinologist, two general surgeons, and, to be available soon, a new pain management physician who will be helping patients manage pain without the use of opioids.

Ward said the hospital is also hoping to soon have the services of a pediatrician.

Ward announced the hospital’s Home Health service just received a five-star rating, the highest available. That means, she said, “The hospital and the home health service are the best in the U.S.”

Ward said she wanted to clear up that NHS did not buy the hospital. The hospital is still a public trust. NHS “just helps with the management,” she said.

Chamber President Jeff Mayo announced that Ampco Electric, owned by David and Heather Palmer, is the Chamber Member of the Month. The Palmers accepted the award and thanked the chamber. The Palmers founded their company in 2007 in McCurtain, then moved to Sallisaw in 2011. David Palmer said they are planning to expand into the Tulsa area.

Mayo announced the Chamber’s 70th Anniversary and Annual Recognition Banquet will begin at 6 p.m. Feb.17 and will be held at the Sallisaw Middle School. The chamber will not hold a luncheon meeting in February due to the banquet.


Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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